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Skream – who made his first beats aged 15 with cheap Fruity Loops software – is one of the few dubstep producers who grew up on garage. ‘When the bling thing comes in, like it did with garage,’ he says, ‘a scene gets ruined, whereas DMZ is like a big family. You don’t get any trouble and there’s no attitude at all. Even if regulars don’t know each other, they still say hello, because they know everyone’s going to be on their wavelength.’
For Kode9, dubstep’s diversity is its best feature. ‘The most important music for me was jungle between 1993-96,’ he explains, ‘because during that period it drew on everything from dub and reggae through to jazz, soul, funk, techno and electro. That’s the first time I’d heard all those things woven into one kind of music and that’s my take on dubstep, too. It’s a different speed, but I like the openness. The only consistent thread that connects the dubstep scene’s different sounds is this massive, immersive, warm and inviting sub-bass. It’s also a certain speed – about 140bpm – but that’s too clinical a way of describing dubstep.’
..a pair of decks
Radio 1 DJ Mary Anne Hobbs agrees. A hugely enthusiastic supporter of the dubstep scene, she helped nudge it overground with the broadcast of her special ‘Breezeblock’ session in January. ‘Part of the beauty of dubstep,’ she claims, ‘is that there’s no snobbery whatsoever in terms of where you draw your influences from and, in other scenes, there tend to be very tight parameters. It’s also completely ego-less and, in an industry where most people would happily trample over the next man to get a nose ahead, that’s rare. When I first heard dubstep,’ she recalls, ‘I had very much the same reaction as when I first heard jungle. My brain didn’t know how to process the sound and my body didn’t know how to react to it on the dancefloor. After you’ve been as passionately involved with alternative electronic music for as long as I have, to come across something so utterly original… well, it really changed my life. Dubstep is a sound that will literally stop you in your tracks, it’s so powerful and elemental.’
As The Bug sees it, dubstep is ‘open in the way that if you were to drive around London with the radio on, the station would change all the time and you’d get a massive variation in sound. That’s the brilliant potential of dubstep – if it manages to stay open-ended and accepting of difference and doesn’t barrel down a cul-de-sac, then it’s got a really healthy future. It’s fantastic that dubstep’s exploded the way it has over the last six to eight months and, at the moment, it’s still a very fresh scene.’
...and some massive bass bins
Like most dubstep producers, Kode9 accepts that commercialisation is inevitable, but hopes any changes to the community will be absorbed without adverse effect. ‘It’s a natural evolutionary process for musics to spread and grow if they have any worth at all. Obviously, it would be nice if everyone could earn a living off it – most producers have either full- or part-time jobs and no one really makes any money – but people in the core of the scene are just trying to keep themselves happy by making the music they want to hear. We’re certainly not going to try and stop dubstep from spreading, but everything else is peripheral to that.’A woofer-carried pandemic is on its way and frankly, resistance is futile. As DMZ’s flyers urge, ‘come meditate on bass weight’.
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